McClellan Accepts 1864 Democratic Presidential Nomination

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, September 24, 1864

Harper's Weekly was the most popular newspaper of the Civil War period. These newspapers have analyses of the war created by people watching it unfold at the time it was happening. The illustrations were created by eye-witnesses to the historic events.

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John Morgan

John Morgan

Peace Through Victory

Peace Through Victory

Democratic Presidential Candidate

1864 Democratic Presidential Candidate

Sherman Atlanta

Sherman Captures Atlanta

Mobile Bay

Battle Mobile Bay

Reuben Fenton

Reuben Fenton

Dress in the 1800's

Dress in the 1800's

Miles O'Rielly

Miles O'Reilly

Trench Warfare

Trench Warfare

Strange Bedfellows

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

[SEPTEMBER 24, 1864.

610

THE SITUATION.

Snow fades the summer in the leaf, With steady pace the autumn comes,

And still our throbbing pulses time With bugle-note and roll of drums.

Still waves our starry flag on high

Its greeting to the broad blue dome, And still we gather 'neath its folds

In spite of treacherous foes at home.

We heed no offerings of a Peace

That clouds the honor of our land; Our hands will 'never yield the sword

Till firmly based the Right shall stand.

The giant cataract echoed loud

The calm reply our ruler gave : " Reston the UNION of the States And loose the fetters of the slave!"

Ah, not till then may battle cease,

Though thick the rain of blood and tears; This sacred baptism of fire

Must purify the stains of years.

It was by blood the land was bought,

The precious blood which patriots give To win the birth-right of mankind;

It in through blood that we shall live.

As Abraham, known in days of old,
Offered up Isaac in God's eyes;

Our land, the mother of us all, Offers her sons a SACRIFICE.

On Southern slopes their graves are green, No war dreams stir their tranquil sleep; Theirs is a rest forever sealed,

Whether the Nation smile or weep.

Oh, let it not be all in vain

That these have died! The smoke-stained sky Is ringing with the cry of "Peace!"

And men proclaim the end is nigh.

Oh, God of battles, hear our prayer Above this wild and stormy din,

And grant that ere the leaves shall fall
Freedom and Peace be ushered in!

TO -.

NAY, not so, dearest ! Look into my eyes, Giving the search its clearest, amplest range; Look in my heart, and see if there arise

In all its palpitations, new or strange,

One pulse of doubt, or smallest sign of change ! We have come hence the common road along,

And ours the common lot : for we have seen Some lights go out, and darkness fill the way, And even then, our hearts so full of song.

Sang to each other, as we passed between The storm and cloud-drifts of the waiting day. Thick you such love could its dear object wrong? I have thy answer as I give thee mine;

Yet all I can bestow, how mean compared with thine !

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 24, 1864.
McCLELLAN'S LETTER.

GENERAL McCLELLAN may be a good rider, but it requires an extraordinary exercise of the skill of the most accomplished equestrian simultaneously to ride two horses going different ways. The chance is that he will fall between the two. His letter of acceptance is a worthy conclusion to the ignominious performance at Chicago. It is confused and verbose: wanting both the manly directness of the soldier and the earnest conviction of the patriot.

He begins by saying that the nomination was " unsought," and that the Convention knew it. If it did, it had a monopoly of the knowledge; for if there has been one fact perfectly evident in our late history, it is that General McCLELLAN, from the time he was placed in command of the Army of the Potomac, has, under careful advice and management, been aiming at this nomination. His remark is entirely superfluous, and shakes at the very beginning the confidence of every reader.

He announces in almost every sentence his devoted love of the Union ; but the platform upon which he stands was the work of VALLANDIGHAM, who proposed in Congress to divide the Union into quarters.

He declares that the war ought to have been prosecuted only to maintain the Union. No man knows better than he that it never has been prosecuted for any other purpose, nor has any authorized person ever announced any other. When General McCLELLAN bagged the entire Legislature of Maryland it was done to maintain the Union. When his friend VALLANDIGHAM was arrested it was for the same purpose. When the emancipation proclamation was issued it was to the same result.

He says that if the war had been waged for the Union only—and not, for instance, against the Maryland Legislature--" the work of reconciliation would have been easy." Easy ! After Bull Run, for instance! This sentence is ludicrous, as showing General McCLELLAN'S profound ignorance of the causes and scope of this war ; an ignorance manifested in every political paper he has ever issued, including his letter favoring Judge WOODWARD'S election in Pennsylvania, an event openly desired by the rebels.

He says that when " our present adversaries" —meaning the rebels—clearly want peace " upon the basis of the Union," they ought to have it. Yes, and they will have it. The only basis of the Union is the Constitution. When the rebels submit to that, they will have peace of course. Nobody ever said otherwise, except those who nominated General McCLELLAN.

He says :

"We should exhaust all the resources of statesmanship practiced by civilized nations, and taught by the traditions of the American people, consistent with the honor and interests of the country to secure such peace, re-establish the Union, and guarantee for the future the Constitutional rights of every State. The Union is the one condition of peace—we ask no more.

" If a frank, earnest, and persistent effort to obtain those objects should fail, the responsibility for ulterior consequences will fall upon those who remain in arms against the Union. But the Union must be preserved at all hazards."

The Government of the United States, with the aid of Generals GRANT and SHERMAN, and SHERIDAN and CANBY, and Admirals FARRAGUT, PORTER, and Captain WINSLOW, is making exactly that frank, earnest, and persistent effort for peace. The President is preserving the Union at all hazards. Why, then, does General McCLELLAN oppose him? Why does he not assist those frank and earnest efforts ? Or, after all his fine talk, does the Chicago candidate really mean the kind of earnest efforts that the Chicago Convention meant, "An immediate cessation of hostilities, or other peaceable means?"

It is a sorry plight for a man who once held the position that McCLELLAN did in public confidence to be nominated by the party of national disgrace, and then exhaust his ingenuity in trying to hedge so as to seem not to be exactly of their opinion. If he is conscious that he does not represent their views, why not say so manfully. To accept their nomination upon so plain a platform is to declare himself, as he is, the candidate of those who made it, and of the party which has no objection to the Union provided only that Southern slaveholders control it, but who think that the only real enemies of the Union are American citizens who are unwilling to allow the slaveholders to override the laws.

The General's political strategy is no better than his military. As usual, he is too late. If he had instantly kicked over the platform the act would have shown an indignant and manly patriotism that would have helped him in the estimation of all honest citizens. But to devote a week to the vain effort of saying something that should please one part of his partisans and not alienate the other, and while he seemed to be in favor of the war yet to agree to stand upon a platform which pronounces it a failure, was simply to devote a week to his own defeat.

His letter is an attempt at political juggling in the midst of an earnest war. But the loyal people of the United States want no leader who gives an uncertain sound. They will weigh this letter in the scale with all the frank, manly, simple letters of the President, which leave no doubt of their meaning or of their author's position, and the juggling letter will be found wanting. They will compare it with the calm and earnest letters of Generals GRANT and SHERMAN and SEYMOUR and HAZEN and LOGAN, and will leave its writer among those whom of all American citizens he has chosen for his friends, those for whose success the rebel chieftains pray.

THE STATE NOMINATIONS.

The Union State nominations have been made. REUBEN E. FENTON of Chautauqua is the candidate for Governor, and THOMAS G. ALVORD of Onondaga for Lieutenant-Governor. Both these gentlemen were formerly Democrats; and both are unconditional Union men. They are not in favor of an armistice to ask Mr. JEFFERSON DAVIS upon what conditions he will allow the Government of the United States to continue. They are not in favor of sending word to SHERMAN and FARRAGUT, to CANBY and SHERIDAN, with the brave boys around them, that the war is a failure. They are not in favor of declaring that General GRANT is whipped because he holds the Weldon Road. They are not in favor of the assertion that the American people are lily-livered cowards, and unable to maintain their own government. Every man in the State who agrees with them will of course work and vote for them.

The resolutions of the Convention repeat those at Baltimore. This is right, for the issue throughout the country is substantially the same. The Governor of New York must be a man heartily in accord with the Administration, and sincerely believing in the cause of the country. The present Governor of the State is a magistrate dear to the rebel heart. He is a magistrate who does not hesitate to charge the responsibility of the rebellion upon the loyal States and people. He is a magistrate who declared publicly that if the Union could not be saved without emancipation the Union should be dissolved. Finally, he is the magistrate who calls the worst criminals "my friends," and who was President of the Convention which proposes to submit to the rebels. This is not the kind of chief magistrate that New York requires at this time. That officer must believe in the , fundamental American doctrine of equal rights

and fair play ; in an unconditional Union ; in the submission of armed rebels to the Constitution and the laws; in the national supremacy.

Mr. FENTON and Mr. ALVORD are unswervingly true to these cardinal points; while the extent and duration of their public services have given them each large experience and a wide familiarity with men and affairs.

Every national success in the field strengthens the Union ticket in the State as it does in the country. Is not that argument enough for every honest patriot? Principles need no explanation when the triumph of the national arms confirm them. That fact alone shows those principles to be national and the candidates who represent them to be men who agree with GRANT and FARRAGUT, with SHERMAN and PORTER, and with the vast majority of the American people.

COPPERHEAD THREATS.

TRUE to their belief that the American people are conquered by the rebels, and are craven enough to ask for terms, the Copperhead orators and papers hope to frighten those people still more by threatening them with civil war at home if the Copperhead candidate for President is not elected.

This kind of talk comes naturally from those who wish to compromise with men who began civil war four years ago because their candidate was defeated. It comes naturally from those who believe that the States are sovereign powers, and that, therefore, citizens of the United States can not be forced to submit to their Government. It comes naturally from those whose reliance is not upon the intelligence but the ignorance of the people ; from those who do not prevail by reasonable argument, but by appeals to the basest passions. It comes naturally from a " Conservatism" which burns orphan asylums and massacres men because they are poor and defenseless.

But those gentry sadly deceive themselves if they suppose the loyal people of this country are so deeply sunken in degradation as to surrender their right of voting freely to any threats of this kind. It is precisely because the Copperheads are capable of using such menaces in a political canvass that they will find themselves excluded from power by the people. For there is not a fool in the land who does not see, that, if they threaten violence when they find themselves in the minority, there is no enormity of which they might not be guilty if they found themselves actually in the majority,

THE CHICAGO PEACE-RECIPE.

THE Chicago Doctors tell us that, since it is proved we are beaten, we must ask the victors for an armistice, with a view to " an ultimate Convention." But upon what terms are the rebels likely to grant an armistice to those who confess that the war is a failure? When one adversary says to another, whom he is throttling while his knee is on his breast, " There, I see I can not whip you, now let's stop and talk"—what happens? The man who is under knows perfectly well that his only chance is to get his feet. So he has only to say, "Take your hand out of my throat, and your knee off my breast, and we'll see about it."

That is the first step. We must recall our armies and navies. The enemy frankly says that before we ask him. The armistice and immediate cessation of hostilities means the withdrawal of our forces. Are we sunk to that ?

But if we are, if we go so far, what is the next step? " An ultimate Convention," reply the Chicago Doctors. But a convention for what ? If it is proposed to change the Constitution, no convention is lawful which is not summoned by two-thirds of all the States, and they can not summon it but by taking the oath to the Constitution. There is no need of our offering an " armistice and immediate cessation of hostilities" to effect this result. The moment that the rebels lay down their arms and return to their loyalty, and constitutionally propose a convention, we know of no party that will oppose it. But this " ultimate convention" is no method of settling the rebellion, because the rebellion must be settled before the Convention is possible.

Now the real meaning of this talk about " an ultimate convention" is apparent enough from a remark in one of the most violent McCLELLAN papers, that " we could not expect the South to come to a convention pledged in advance to accept the result." In other words, " the South," or the rebels, having taken an oath of fidelity to the Union so as to be able to hold a convention at all, would perjure themselves, and plunge into fresh war if they did not like the action of the convention. And the paper which makes this extraordinary statement also assumes that both sides would come into the Convention armed ! In other words, that GRANT, FARRAGUT, and SHERMAN should remain just where they are, but should refrain from further demonstrations until the rebels had decided what terms they would offer us, and we had accepted or rejected them !

To any such ridiculous suggestion DAVIS

' would, of course, reply, " If you men of Chicago believe what you say, that you. can not do what you have undertaken to do, take away your armies. You concede that the experiment of war has failed, and, therefore, whatever happens, you have no farther need of soldiers." When we had done what he commanded he would add: " And now you want a convention. What for? To restore the Union which I spit upon, and which you confess you can't maintain by arms? Do you think I am going to give to blarney what I would not give to cannon-balls, and yield to McCLELLAN'S palaver what I refused to FARRAGUT'S batteries ? We rebels fought to dissolve the Union. You fought to retain it. You confess yourselves beaten. Do you suppose we love the Union any more dearly because you have shed our blood and desolated our lands? We despise the lot of you, and especially those who insist upon licking the boots that kick them." And so "not being pledged in advance to accept the result," but being pledged exactly not to accept it, JEFF DAVIS and Company would depart to their own place.

This is the peace-recipe of the Chicago Doctors. Are faithful citizens of the United States ready for such tragical tomfoolery? This is what one of his sycophants calls " the strangely mature statesmanship" of General McCLELLAN. Would not statesmanship a little less "strange" serve our purpose at this juncture ? Is not the practice of Doctors GRANT, SHERMAN, FARRAGUT, SHERIDAN, PORTER, and CANBY somewhat more consistent with the character and purposes of the loyal American people than this of Doctors McCLELLAN and VALLANDIGHAM, and the Chicago school?

"CONSERVATIVE" RIBALDRY.

If any of our readers are really wondering which is the " Conservative" party in this election; which candidates a peaceable, thoughtful, self respecting citizen ought to vote for, let him look over the following list of epithets applied to the Constitutional President of the United States by the men who obstreperously vociferate that they are "Conservative." Is this the spirit of that wise Conservatism which every good citizen respects ? Is there any partisan ribaldry so disgusting since the Aurora bespattered General WASHINGTON with invective ? These are the terms applied by the friends of General McCLELLAN to the President :

Filthy Story-Teller, Ignoramus Abe,

Despot,   Old Scoundrel,

Big Secessionist,   Perjurer,

Liar,   Robber,

Thief,   Swindler,

Braggart,   Tyrant,

Buffoon,   Fiend,

Usurper,    Butcher,

Monster,   Land-Pirate,

A Long, Lean, Lank, Lantern-Jawed,

High - Cheeked - Boned Spavined

Rail-Splitting Stallion.

Is the party whose orators and papers incessantly speak of the President of the United States in such terms, a party to which the Government of this country should be intrusted?

THE CHICAGO KEY-NOTE.

A DR. ALLEN recently said at a meeting of the " Democratic" club in Washington that we must let the rebels go, if we could not agree upon the terms of their return. But Dr. ALLEN is probably a young man. Amos KENDALL is not. Amos KENDALL is old enough to have been Postmaster-General thirty years ago, and to have authorized the robbing of the mails. (Instructions to the Postmaster at Charleston in 1835.) Amos KENDALL is old enough to know that all things should not be said at all times; and that if you are trying to drive pigs to Killarney you must insist that they are going to Cork. So Amos KENDALL, who presided at the meeting which first nominated McCLELLAN, remarked to the young man substantially : "Don't say that. That is what the minions of the despot LINCOLN wish us to say, for that is bald disunion. Let vs first elect our men (McCLELLAN and PENDLETON), and then we can do whatever is practicable."

This, says one of the most belligerent " peace" papers, " gives the true key note to the Democratic music." Of course it does, for the tune is disunion.

THE SOLDIERS' VIEW.

THE New York Secretary of State has sent the blank ballots to the army for the New York soldiers. Those soldiers will not be likely to forget that the Union candidate for Governor of the State, REUBEN E. FENTON, is the able and efficient and devoted Chairman of the National Committee for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers. He does not believe, nor has he ever believed, that the war was a failure, and that the imperial State ought to ask pardon of rebels; nor that the triumphs of SHERMAN, and FARRAGUT and the deadly grip of GRANT, are reasons for asking "an immediate cessation of hostilities,"


 

 

  

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